The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the request to stay the execution of Tennessee inmate Billy Ray Irick, the court announced on Thursday.

In a brief order, the court said "The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the court is denied. The petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied."

The refusal of the Supreme Court to hear the motion sets in motion the execution of Irick later Thursday. It would be the first execution in Tennessee since December 2009.

Irick was moved to death watch late Monday night ahead of his scheduled execution.

Death watch is the three-day period before an execution. During this time, the inmate is placed in a cell next to the execution chamber and will remain under 24-hour observation by a team of officers.

The 59-year-old was convicted of rape and murder of a 7-year-old in 1985 in Knox County.

Advocates against his execution said he suffers from severe mental illness.

The last execution in Tennessee was in December 2009. Cecil Johnson had been convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in Davidson County.

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